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When life feels out of control, try these four “Ps

Abby Delouya RMFT-CCC, CPTT 

Quick Tips: In Control When Life is Not

Sometimes our lives feel out of control. With simchahs, child-rearing, grandkids, work, elderly parents, our marriages, Yamim Tovim, chesed, community obligations, medical issues, tragedies Rachmana litzlan, shiddichum, and a worldwide pandemic, we can feel utterly overwhelmed. Occasionally that overwhelm can spiral, leaving us feeling anxious and fearful of the future.

When life feels out of control, try these four “Ps”:

  1. Pray and connect spiritually. Do it formally or informally (learning a sefer on emunah can work wonders). There’s a wise aphorism: “Where we feel fear, we lack faith.”
  2. Pause and take breaks. This is when self-care isn't optional. Meditate, find moments of intentional calm, connect with yourself and your basic needs: Are you eating properly? Sleeping enough? Exercising at all?
  3. Practice gratitude: Write a gratitude list nightly of five things you appreciate in your life.
  4. Pass it Along: share the feelings of overwhelm (or the tasks). Sometimes we get into a rut and think we’re the only ones who can take charge. Delegating is crucial.


Disorders Decoded: Postpartum Depression

Most new moms experience “baby blues” after birth which commonly include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. (Alternatively, some moms experience “baby pinks” — the opposite). Baby blues are due to the intense hormonal changes, lack of sleep, physical trauma from birth, and emotional transition that comes with a new baby. They usually resolve two to three weeks after birth.

Postpartum depression may be mistaken for baby blues at first — but the signs and symptoms are more intense and last longer, and may eventually interfere with Mom’s ability to care for her baby and handle other daily tasks. Symptoms usually develop within the first few weeks after giving birth, but may begin earlier — during pregnancy, or later — up to a year after birth. New fathers can experience postpartum depression, too. They may feel sad or fatigued, be overwhelmed, experience anxiety, or have changes in their usual eating and sleeping patterns — the same symptoms mothers experience.

If you or someone you know are struggling with overwhelming feelings of sadness, overwhelm, or anxiety after birth, please contact a licensed mental health provider as PPD can be a serious and even life-threatening condition.


Relationship Reflections: Apologize the Right Way

“I’m sorry if you felt that way.” “I’m sorry that happened.” “I’m sorry, but you started it.” Sound familiar? These are fauxpologies — statements of blame masked as apologies. Fauxpologies can actually make things worse, as the receiver may feel not only wronged, but invalidated and blamed.

A real apology follows the steps of teshuvah: 1. Acknowledge how your action affected the other person 2. Say you’re sorry 3. Describe what you’re going to do to make it right or ensure it doesn’t happen again. Don’t excuse or explain.


In the News: Take This to Heart

A new study found that middle-aged women who practiced self-compassion had a reduced risk of heart disease.  Researchers are looking at the mind-body connection, and finding that self-compassion is essential for both mental and physical health. Different types of talking therapy, yoga, and mindfulness may help cultivate self-compassion. Thoughts can be reframed to support a positive growth mindset at any age, leading to lifelong positive effects.


Abby Delouya RMFT-CCC, CPTT is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist in private practice with a specialty in trauma and addiction. Abby lives in Monsey, New York and maintains her practice in Canada.


Denial: Emotional Anesthesia

Sarah Rivkah Kohn

The way we talk about it, you’d think denial is a terrible thing. But often, not only is it not bad, it can even be beneficial.

Think of how a surgeon uses anesthesia prior to a procedure — the purpose of anesthesia is to take the edge off the pain so that he can perform the procedure. For a small oral surgery, the anesthesia may be light and last an hour. For a complex brain surgery, the anesthesia will be much heavier and can often take hours to wear off. The more painful the procedure, the heavier the dosage needed to allow the body to feel only when it’s not harmful to it.

Denial is emotional anesthesia. It’s there to protect one from what’s too huge for the brain to currently process. There’s no shame in that, and it’s a mistake to rush someone out of it. Just as one feels tingling when the anesthesia begins to wear off, so too, there’ll be tiny tremors in the emotional barriers that will allow the person in pain to begin to feel.

But what if anesthesia won’t wear off after hours or even days? That’s when we visit a specialist to check what went wrong, because anesthesia isn't a lifestyle. So, too, if denial remains beyond several days, weeks, or months (depending on the level of the trauma or loss), then we want to seek out a clinician to see what went off course here and how we can bring back the nerves that feel pain. Denial shouldn’t last forever, but let’s appreciate it for the crucial opportunity it offers.


Sarah Rivkah Kohn is the founder and director of Links and Shlomie’s Club, an organization servicing children and teens who lost a parent.


True Savings

Sara Glaz

The past two years have made us expert online shoppers. But just because you nabbed a jaw-dropping deal on new storage bins doesn’t necessarily mean you’re saving money.

Try taking a month off from the “deal sites” and focus on really saving money — use the items in your loaded pantry before your next trip to the grocery store, or take the $50 a month that you previously spent on deals and start building up your emergency fund.


Sara Glaz is an investment advisor and financial planner at The Munk Wealth Management Group in Cedarhurst, New York.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 786)

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